Heavenly Spheres and Sephiroth by John Barnwell, The Arcana of the Grail Angel, Verticordia Press 1999, Diagram VII
The 9 Angelic Choirs
In the Esoteric School of Dionysius the Aeropagita was cultivated the knowledge of the 9 Angelic Choirs divided into three Hierarchies:
Seraphim, Spirits of Love
Cherubim, Spirits of Harmony
Thrones, Spirits of Will
Dominations or Kyriotetes, Spirits of Wisdom
Virtue or Dynameis, Spirits of the Movement
Power, Exusiai or Elohim, Spirits of Form
Principalities or Archai, Spirits of Time or Personality
Archangels, Spirits of the People or of the Flame
Angels, Sons of Life or Spirits of Twilight
In turn, the 9 Angelic Choirs were placed in relation with the regency and government of the 9 Heavenly Spheres of the solar system. These were the Mysteries of Esoteric Christianity of John the Evangelist which then flowed into Anthroposophical Spiritual Science.
From the Spiritual Science we know that not only do the 9 Angelic Choirs not only rule and govern the Heavenly Spheres, but they help them to evolve by fulfilling the mission entrusted to them on the cosmic plane. The Hierarchies evolve in time, according to the sequence of the 7 Metamorphoses of Earth. In turn, the Celestial Spheres can be related to the Higher Worlds as well as to the Sephiroths of the Tree of Life and the Kabbalah Worlds (which will be indicated in brackets). This correspondence between Angelic Choirs, Celestial Spheres and Tree of Life is the foundation of the existing parallelism between the Kabbalah and Anthroposophy.
In order we have then:
The Physical World (World of Action, Assiah) which is experienced with living thinking:
The Earth (Sephirah Malkuth) has for heaven its own atmosphere and is at the center of all the subsequent Celestial Spheres. The Etheric World extends until it fades toward the Moon. The Earth is entrusted to the Tenth Hierarchy, Man, the only incarnate being who possesses an individual spirit, the I which is based in Christ, the I of the Earth.
Here begins the Astral World (World of Formation, Yetzirah) which is experienced through Imagination:
The Heaven of the Moon (Sephirah Yesod), the first, includes the entire orbit described by the physical body of the Moon and also the Black Moon (Eighth Sphere). The Moon Sphere is ruled by the Angels, the Sons of Life, who offer their being as guides of human beings, becoming Guardian Angels, projecting into the astral body the images of the future of humanity during the day and dreams during the night;
The Heaven of Mercury (Sephirah Hod) extends one ring further forward and includes the Heaven of the Moon. Ruled by the Archangels, the Spirits of the Peoples who offer their being as the I of the Peoples who walk the Earth, giving it the tongue, thus allowing it to fulfill its destiny;
The Heaven of Venus (Sephirah Netzach) includes the Skies of the Moon and Mercury. Ruled by the Principalities, the Spirits of Time who with their being are the flow of the evolution of the worlds, the space through which evolution takes place. They are the Eons of the Gnostics, those whose being is the temporal unfolding of evolution.
Here begins the Mental World of Thought (World of Creation, Briah) which is experienced through Inspiration:
The Heaven of the Sun (Sephirah Tiphareth) includes the Skies of the Moon, Mercury and Venus. Ruled by the Powers or Elohim, the Spirits of Form who create our individuality through the sacrifice of their own spiritual substance during the metamorphosis of the Earth-Mars. The I of man exist as their children;
The Heaven of Mars (Sephirah Geburah) includes the Skies of the Moon, Mercury, Venus and the Sun. Ruled by Virtues, the Spirits of the Movement who create the astral body through the sacrifice of their own animic substance during the Ancient Moon. The Group Spirits of the Animal Kingdom exist as their children;
The Heaven of Jupiter (Sephirah Chesed) includes the Skies of the Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun and Mars. Ruled by the Dominations, the Spirits of Wisdom who create the etheric body through the sacrifice of their own vital substance during the Ancient Sun. The Group Spirits of the Vegetal Kingdom exist as their children.
Here begins the Higher Mental World or World of Reason (World of Creation, Briah) which is experienced through Intuition.
The Heaven of Saturn (Sephirah Binah) includes the Skies of Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars and Jupiter. Ruled by the Thrones, the Spirits of Will who create our physical body through the sacrifice of their own volitional substance during the Ancient Saturn. They guard the Spiritual Self until in the Future Jupiter man will extract it from the astral body. Here the initiate, like the deceased after death, experiences Cosmic Midnight, where they come to contemplate the Memory of Nature and plan their future life in the next incarnation;
Here we have the Sphere of the Zodiac (Sephirah Chokmah) which includes all the Heavens. Ruled by the Cherubim, the Spirits of Harmony who give symmetry to all that exists in the cosmos, making what “As high so low”. They guard the Vital Spirit until in the Future Venus man extracts it from the etheric body;
Here we have the Sphere of the First Mobile (Sephirah Kether) which includes all the Heavens and the Zodiac. Ruled by the Seraphim, the Spirits of Love who, burning with love for God, imprint the movement on all the other Heavens to the depths of the Earth. They guard the Man-Spirit until in the Future Vulcan man extracts it from the physical body.
Here ends Creation and we have Incremental Eternity where the Trinity resides: here we have the Sphere of the Empyrean (the three Negative Veils of Ain, Ain Soph and Ain Soph Aur) which includes all the Heavens, the Zodiac and is the Immovable Engine.
The Trinity and the Spiritual Hierarchies
Each of the Hierarchies has a particular relationship with each of the Persons of the Trinity, in turn in a peculiar relationship with 9 Angelic Choirs. When one of the three Persons manifests itself it does so through a particular hierarchy and angelic choir of which it is in charge:
The blue color refers to the relationship with the Father, red to that with the Son and yellow to that with the Holy Spirit.
Although the Trinity is active in all Spiritual Hierarchies, individual Persons are more in relation to a specific Hierarchy and choir: The Father (blue) is in close connection with the First Hierarchy as a whole and with the choirs of Thrones (1a), Dominations (2a), principalities (3a); the Son with the Second Hierarchy as a whole, with the choirs of Seraphim (1a), Power (2a), Archangels (3a) and Man (10a); the Holy Spirit with the Third Hierarchy as a whole and with the choirs of Cherubim (1a), Virtue (2a), Angels (3a).
In the manifestation of creation, when the cosmic will of the Father comes into action, it descends from Eternity into the flow of evolution through the Thrones or Spirits of Will, then through the Dominations or Spirits of Wisdom and finally through the Principalities or Spirits of Time. As a whole, then, the action of the First Hierarchy is a reflection of the cosmic consciousness of the Father, whereby in their exterior life they create worlds, in their interior life they create beings who are their descendants in nature. These are the Spirits of the Cyclical Periods who operate in all the cyclical alternations of time: the alternation of day and night, the alternation of seasons. They form the I of the Earth and coordinate the animal, vegetable and animal group souls, as well as the elementals.
The feeling of the Son, instead, is manifested through the Seraphim, followed by the Powers and Archangels. An important manifestation at the level of the Archangels was that of the three super-sensitive sacrifices of Christ which took place before the Mystery of Golgotha. This entity, born of the union of Christ and an Archangel, was the Adamic soul of the Jesus of Luke’s Gospel, untouched by the expulsion from the Earthly Paradise. Christ then became incarnated in the body of Jesus of Nazareth, thus sanctioning his union with the destiny of humanity and the Earth of which he became the Spirit. The life of the Son is then expressed through the Second Hierarchy as a whole: outwardly they express themselves through the creation of the group souls of plants and animals to which they remain linked, while inwardly they stimulate the life of these same beings. On the whole, the descendants of the Second Hierarchy are the astral body (soul) of the Earth.
The thinking of the Holy Spirit is manifested through the Cherubim, which are the spirits who preside over the signs of the zodiac, then over the Virtues or Spirits of the Movement, and finally over the Angels, especially the Guardian Angels of human beings. As a whole, the Third Hierarchy works for the Holy Spirit: outwardly they express themselves through the production of the elementals, while interiorly they experience the fullness of their spirit. On the whole they are the etheric body of the Earth.
Man as a Point of Reflection
The 9 Heavenly Spheres are reflected in the 9 Inner Strata of the Earth, just as the 9 Angelic Choirs have their shadow in the 9 Demonic Arrays, but we must not fall into the error of dualism:
It is impossible to achieve a true and adequate concept of God, and therefore of Christ, as long as the structure of the universe, including the spiritual world, is understood in terms of duality. Since people distinguish only duality – with good occupying one pole and evil the other – they fall into the error of bringing together as “evil” all that we have learned over time to attribute to the Luciferic and Ahrimanic Principles. They do not recognize that they have brought together two universal elements. In this way the Luciferic element has been moved to the other pole, to the “good” pole. In other words, people believed to perceive and reverence the Divine, speaking of the Divine by name, when instead they were infusing in what they call “Divine” the Luciferic element. That is why it is so difficult for people today to arrive at a pure concept of God and the impulse of Christ in human and cosmic evolution. – Rudolf Steiner, Dornach, November 22, 1919.
Man as the Tenth Hierarchy is the point of reflection between the Celestial Spheres and the Inner Strata of the Earth: he is an incarnate Self, a spiritual being who makes a human experience, but at the same time dwells in him, in his lower bodies, the Double Shadow, that part which in truth belongs to the Strata of the Earth. While the I of man belongs to the spiritual worlds and visits the Earth to fulfill its mission of redemption, the Double belongs to the Eighth Sphere, which is being shaped by the intervention of the Obstacles. As Christ is incarnated in the planet to become the I of the Earth, the I of man is incarnated in the physical body. The Christ who has just descended into the body of Jesus of Nazareth at Baptism in the Jordan, has been subjected to the triple temptation of Lucifer and Ahriman, thus facing the Double Shadow of all humanity.
Moreover, following the Mystery of Golgotha, Christ descends into the Inner Layers, in order to redeem the Phantom of man, the original physical body dating back to the Ancient Saturn.
Christ is therefore placed as a third element between Lucifer and Ahriman, just as the I of man is divided between one in the Luciferic tendency to ascend the Celestial Spheres in a continuous abstraction, omitting the Inner Strata of the Earth; or in the ahrimanic tendency to omit the Celestial Spheres and sink into the only Inner Strata of the Earth, which are also the inner layers of his personality. Every authentic initiation is at the same time an ascent into the Heavenly Spheres and descending into the Inner Strata of the Earth, as foreseen by the Rosicrucian Way and the Christian-Esoteric Way. It is also the alchemical principle of VITRIOL. Therefore, we must not think that the 9 Heavenly Spheres are dualistically opposed to the 9 Inner Layers of the Earth, because at the center of these is man as the Tenth Hierarchy, thus forming a tripartition according to the relationship:
Son in Eternity
I am of man on Earth
Christ at the Center of the Earth
Only by virtue of this tripartition is it possible to arrive at a conception of the divine that is responsive to the action of Christ. Thus, the I of man incarnated on Earth stands at the center between the Second Person of the Son who is present beyond the Sphere of the Zodiac in Eternity and Christ, present as the I of the Earth at the Center of the Earth itself, according to the occult law whereby the center corresponds to the circumference.
The 9 Inner Layers of the Earth
There is a specular relationship between what will have to be the Future Volcano as the redemption of the present material Earth and what in the process of redemption may instead be lost and definitively decay into the Eighth Sphere, passing through the point of reflection of the I-Christ. This process also respects the hermetic and cabalistic axiom, “As above so below”, so that there are nine Heavenly Spheres and nine Layers of the Earth’s Viscera that are described as Circles or Hellly Dwellings. Just as the fossil is a mineral copy of the physical body, which descends completely into the earthly element, so the inner layers of the Earth are a subnatural copy of the celestial spheres. The inner constitution of Earth shows how it is a gigantic organism, within which there is a continuous struggle between the spiritual forces and those of the obstacle.
The Earth has on the surface the equivalent of the system of the limbs and abdomen where the replacement takes place, the seat of the Earth’s will. It was formed during the present Earth and the Ancient Moon:
If one descends further, one arrives at the equivalent of the chest of the Earth where the breathing and circulation, the seat of the Earth’s feeling, is located. It was formed during the Ancient Sun:
If we finally descend further, we reach the equivalent of the head of the Earth where the neurosensory system, the thinking of the Earth, which was formed during the Ancient Saturn, is located:
For each of these inner layers of the Earth a disharmony is produced equal in intensity and contrary in quality to the Music of the Spheres that instead regulates life in the Cosmos. In the Infernal Dwellings, instead of the radiant angelic intelligences of the planets, the Hierarchies of the Obstacle take shape, those who followed the three great rebels in Hell placed within the Earth, Lucifer, Ahriman and the Asura, thus remaining behind in the three past metamorphoses of the Earth.
In the same way, in the Kabbalah, in the lower portion of Malkuth, also called Lilith, we have the Tree of Death in which instead of the Sephiroth spheres there are the broken vessels of the Qliphoth, unable to contain the Light emanating from God by his own emanation in order to create. In Christian esotericism this corresponds to the subdivisions present within the Earth, the nine Circles of Hell, whose existence is a shadow of the nine Heavens. Just as each Heaven is ruled by an angelic choir, so each Hellen Circle is ruled by one of the devilish hosts, fallen angels.
However, while the angelic hosts are ordered according to their rank, in the underworld there is a so-called “Pseudomonarchy”, a false hierarchy, where power is given to the Demonic Legions by selfishness, materialism and nihilism instead of the concerted harmony of the Angelic Choirs’ union of intent:
Lilith, the dark side of Malkuth;
Gamaliel, the Devious of God, reflection of the Moon’s Heaven;
Samael, the Opponents of God, reflection of the Heaven of Mercury;
Harab Zaraq, the Ravens of the Ardour of God, reflection of the Heaven of Venus;
Thagirion, Those who Shout Pain, reflection of the Heaven of the Sun;
Golachab, the Burning Bodies, reflection of the Heaven of Mars;
Gha Agsheblah, the Devourers, reflection of the Heaven of Jupiter;
Sathariel, the Concealment of God, reflection of the Heaven of Saturn;
Ghogiel, the Confusion of God’s Power, reflection of the Starry Heaven and the Zodiac;
Thaumiel, the Duality in God, reflection of the First Furniture or Crystal.
Where the sequence of Heaven culminates in the first and last Unity of God, in the Underworld it ends with the dualism of the multiplicity of states of being: in the Kabbalah it takes the name of Thaumiel, the duality in God, personified by the false Satan and Moloch. Because of its double government, this is the only Qliphah divided in two. This Mystery is in relation to the conception of the Science of the Anthroposophical Spirit concerning the Trinity of Evil.
These nine layers are in fact the reflection of the nine Heavenly Spheres, the supernatura, which during the evolution of the Earth from the spiritual world to the physical world have been trapped in the dense matter constituting the subnatura. In fact, for Steiner, the mission of the Roses+Crosses is to progressively transmute the inner layers of the Earth, in order to spiritualize what has been crystallizing in the course of cosmic evolution from Ancient Saturn to the present Earth. That planet that was previously completely alive, the Earth, has been dying and it is only thanks to the intervention of Christ that it was possible to save it and place it on the path of ascension towards the spirit. For this reason each degree corresponds to a progressive descent into the depths of the Earth which is at the same time a recapitulation of its evolutionary epochs, from the present to the most remote layer formed in Ancient Saturn, in all passing through 9 internal layers of the Earth, as well as an ascent to the corresponding Celestial Spheres. The task is arduous and is nothing other than the redemption of Evil that dwells in the inner strata of the Earth, so that the darkness will finally comprehend the Light, from the individual dimension to the cosmic one. Such a cosmic task would not be possible if the human I were not indissolubly united with that of Christ.
The Earth’s Inner Layers and the Initiations by Judith von Halle, The Descent into the Depths of the Earth: on the Antroposofic Path of Schooling, Temple Lodge, 2011, p.132